Each year, in the April/May issue of Social Education, the National Council for the Social Studies and the Children's Book Council presents a list of Notable Children's Tradebooks in the Field of Social Studies. That list, and assorted book reviews and bibliographies, are great resources for tradebooks that might be used to enhance social studies and citizenship teaching. Add to that list one more terrific resource: C Is for Citizenhip, written by Laurel R. Singleton and published by the Social Science Education Consortium (SSEC).
In the introduction to C Is for Citizenhip, Singleton dissects the research surrounding the use of tradebooks in the classroom. While offering that children's tradebooks can provide compelling stories, Singleton is also quick to point out the potential pitfalls of those stories. Teachers must "be vigilant about encouraging students to question the accuracy of the information presented," says Singleton.
Cautions aside, tradebooks, well used, can provide unquestionable benefits. Among those benefits:
In C Is for Citizenhip, Singleton presents twenty titles that can be used to teach citizenship topics. A complete lesson plan is presented for each book; each plan includes a summary of the book's content, activities to motivate interest in the book, discussion questions, and follow-up activities. The books can be used to teach multiple social studies concepts, including government; rules and laws; democratic values and principles; citizens' rights and privileges; and the importance of a citizen's participation in civic life.
The books Singleton has selected for this compendium run the gamut from Arthur Meets the President to The Bomb. Other titles and a brief description from C Is for Citizenhip) include:
Brooklyn Doesn't Rhyme is another of the titles selected for inclusion in C Is for Citizenhip. Among the social studies/citizenship topics addressed in this book are family values, rights and privileges, and civic participation. This book might be a nice one for teachers to use at the start of a new school year, as that's the situation Rosey, the book's main character, finds herself in in the book's opening pages.
The lesson plan for Brooklyn Doesn't Rhyme is directed at teachers in grades 3 and up, but Singleton has recommended another book -- American Too by Ted Lewin -- to address similar issues for younger students. Many students might want to read both books and compare the experiences of the main characters.
Written by Newbery Award-winning author Joan W. Blos, Brooklyn Doesn't Rhyme is a powerful story about a young girl, Rosey, who worries about her latest school writing assignment. How can she write interestingly about her ordinary life in Brooklyn? As Rosey writes her stories, a vivid and heart-touching picture emerges of life in a Jewish-American community in the early years of the 20th century.
About the book, Booklist wrote: "[Rosey's] voice is gently upbeat ... evoking the warmth of the extended family that celebrates the old ways even as it eagerly tries to become part of America. Like Blos's Newbery winner, A Gathering of Days (1979), the focus is on the small events of daily life. The account of the family's move to a new house is a marvel of affectionate comedy. The story 'Momma and the Vote' personalizes history with wit and verve. There's a touching episode about two brothers who can only go to school alternate weeks because they share a pair of shoes.... As Rosey comes to realize, there's a difference between something that happens and making it a story. This is family folklore, and in fact, that's the way the book will be best used: in writing classes to encourage kids to find their own family stories, whether the immigration was many generations back or is happening right now."
SSEC has given Education World permission to reprint the Brooklyn Doesn't Rhyme lesson plan from C Is for Citizenhip. Take note that these are only excerpts of the entire lesson:
The following are among the many questions presented in C Is for Citizenhip about the book Brooklyn Doesn't Rhyme. The questions are intended to get students thinking about the citizenship values presented in the text. (Note: These questions are designed to be asked after reading specific sections of the book.)
C Is for Citizenship: Children's Literature and Civic Understanding is written by Laurel Singleton and published by the Social Science Education Consortium of Boulder, Colorado. The publication is available from the Consortium at a cost of $17.95, plus shipping and handling. To order or for more information, contact SSEC Publications, P.O. Box 21270, Boulder, Colorado 80308-4270. Phone (303)492-8154.
Article by Gary Hopkins
Education WorldÂ® Editor-in-Chief
Copyright Â© 1998 Education World